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Robot controller and SBC run Ubuntu and ROS 2 on Coffee Lake CPUs

Jun 9, 2020 — by Eric Brown — 1972 views

Adlink unveiled a “ROScube-I” robot controller that runs Ubuntu and Adlink’s ROS 2 based Neuron SDK on 8th or 9th Gen Coffee Lake CPUs. There is also an 8th Gen based ROScube-I Starter Kit SBC.

Adlink and Intel have collaborated to launch a ROScube-I robotics computer and other Intel-based robotics products that that run Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. The products also include Intel’s OpenVINO toolkit amd Adlink’s Neuron SDK based on the latest Foxy Fitzroy version of ROS (Robot Operating System) 2 middleware.



ROScube-I standard and expansion models
(click image to enlarge)

Adlink’s new ROS 2 product lineup includes:

  • ROScube-I — Intel 8th/9th Gen Coffee Lake with Intel CM246 — robotics controller with optional base extension for PCIe graphics cards
  • ROScube-I Starter Kit Series — Intel 8th Gen Coffee Lake with Intel Q370 — Less feature rich SBC variant of ROScube-I mainboard with MXM graphics
  • ROScube Pico Development Kit — Intel Apollo Lake or Rockchip PX30– Smaller SBC based with a choice of SMARC modules and 40-pin RPi GPIO
  • NeuronBot — Intel 6th Gen Skylake — Demo and development robot with LIDAR sensor

Here we will examine the ROScube-I system and Starter Kit. We will follow up soon with a separate report on the ROScube Pico and NeuronBot.



ROScube-I Starter Kit and conceptual architecture diagram showing ROScube-I with Neuron SDK
(click images to enlarge)

Adlink describes its Neuron SDK as a proprietary platform for professional robotic applications such as autonomous mobile robots (AMR). The platform is based on the open source ROS 2 middleware and ships with open-source application libraries for robot control, including vision, navigation, and motion. There is also a hypervisor “for safe mission critical mission execution,” says Adlink.

 
ROScube-I

The ROScube-I can be considered the Intel-based counterpoint to Adlink’s M300-Xavier-ROS2 robotics controller, which is based on Nvidia’s AI-enabled AGX Xavier module. This larger system measures 240 x 210 x 86mm or 240 x 210 x 165mm for the optional expansion box version that adds single PCIe Gen3 x16 and PCIe Gen3 x4 slots and a fan.

The ROScube-I appears to be a variant of the identically sized Matrix MXE-5600, which is also available in a MXC-6600 model with PCIe x16 and x4 slots. Like the MXE-5600, the ROScube-I supports 8th or 9th Gen Coffee Lake processors with a beefy Intel CM246 chipset. In fact, it supports the same models: the hexa-core, 2.8GHz/4.5GHz Xeon E-2276ME (8th Gen) and 2.7GHz/4.4GHz Core i7-9850HE (9th Gen) and the quad-core, 2.5GHz/4.2GHz Core i5-8400H (8th Gen) and 1.6GHz/2.9GHz i3-9100HL (9th Gen). These are all 45W TDP parts except for the 25W i3-9100HL.

You can load from 4GB to 32GB of 2400MHz DDR4 via dual sockets. The ROScube-I lacks the dual SATA bays and CFast slot of the MXE-5600, but similarly provides an M.2 B- or B+M-key slot. In this case the slot is preconfigured with mSATA SSDs ranging from 64GB to 128GB, depending on the CPU model.

The ROScube-I provides more LAN and I/O ports than the MXE-5600 but lacks display ports. The system supplies 4x GbE ports, 3x of which use an Intel i211AT controller and the fourth with an Intel i219LM with iAMT and IEEE 1588/802.1AS precision time synchronization support.



ROScube-I side and front views
(click image to enlarge)

Other ports include 6x USB 3.1 Gen1 (2x with lockable connectors) plus 4x USB 2.0 ports. You also get 2x RS-232/42/485 ports, 2x I2C interfaces, and 8-in/8-out DIO. The specs are a bit unclear, but it seems the same DB50 connector used by the DIO supports I/O controlled by an RTOS-driven FARO-FS900 CANbus or Peak PCAN-miniPCIe card CANBus module running on one of the system’s two mini-PCIe slots. Adlink separately mentions optional support for the VxWorks RTOS.

The second mini-PCIe slot supports WiFi/BT or LTE and is accompanied by a micro-SIM slot. There is also an M.2 A-key or A+E-key 2230 slot that supports an optional Intel Wireless-AC 9260 card. As noted, the expansion box model adds full-sized PCIe x16 and x4 slots that support Intel VPU or Nvidia GPU cards for AI computation.

The ROScube-I is further equipped with a watchdog, TPM 2.0, and 8x LEDs, including 5x user LEDs. The 3.6 or 4.6 kg system is wall-mountable.

The system has a 9-32V DC terminal block input with various power buttons and optional AC/DC adapters. Power consumption ranges from 16.7-4.7A for the standard box or 20-12.5A for the PCIe-enabled expansion model.

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The MXE-5600 supports -20 to 70°C or -20 to 60° temperatures, depending on whether you have filled one or two sockets with RAM. Vibration resistance is listed as 5 Grms, 5-500 Hz, 3 axes and shock protection is 100 Grms, half sine 11ms.

The system is protected against ESD at ±8KV (contact) or ±15KV (air), and there are numerous certifications for EMI and EMS protection. Humidity tolerance is listed as 95% @ 40°C, non-condensing.

 
ROScube-I Starter Kit Series

The ROScube-I Starter Kit is a 197.72 x 167.32mm SBC that provides most of the features of the ROScube-I. The main difference is that it is limited to 8th Gen Coffee Lake instead of 9th Gen Coffee Lake Refresh and has a lesser-powered Intel Q370 chipset. CPU options include the octa-core Core i7-9700TE clocked at 1.8GHz/3.8GHz, the hexa-core, 2.1GHz Core i5-8500T, and the quad-core, 3.1GHz Core i3-8100T.



ROScube-I Starter Kit specs
(click images to enlarge)

Unlike the ROScube-I, you get an HDMI port and dual SATA connectors. Yet, as you can see from the spec charts above, the feature set is somewhat reduced overall, at least in terms of the I/O that is expressed in real-world ports.


MVP-6120-MXM

Instead of offering the optional PCIe expansion case, the system provides an MXM PCIe x8 Gen2 edge connector. This is also available on MXM-enabled variations of the previously mentioned MXE-5600 and MXC-6600 called the MVP-5100-MXM and MVP-6100-MXM. The MXM slots supports Nvidia EGX-MXM-P1000, P2000, P3000, or P5000 modules.

The ROScube-I Starter Kit lacks the more extensive ruggedization features of the ROScube-I. There is a 0 to 60°C range and a 12V DC input.

 
Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the ROScube-I and ROScube-I Starter Kit. More information may be found in Adlink’s announcement, as well as its ROScube-I, ROScube-I Starter Kit, and Neuron SDK product pages.

 

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